By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: Don't own these characters. I wrote this thing ages ago after I saw 'Spellbound' for like the second or third time. R/R if you like Robin and Raven.

Loneliness. Has anyone ever contemplated the meaning of being truly alone? We use the term so often it seems. Do any of us truly get it? We have people around us, family and friends. How can we be alone? Yet some of us are. You wouldn't know it by our faces but we are so alone. The relationships we have with other people keep us sane or at least they're supposed to. But it doesn't work like that for me and the people like me. Our relationships with others just force us back into isolation.

My attention is drawn back to the chest in my room, the place where I locked him away. Did I really banish him for good or did I just save him for a rainy day? Anything's better than being alone, right? Yeah, right. It's been a few days since it happened. The others are all trying their best, Beast Boy in particular, but they can't help. They couldn't know how this feels. I'm like an addict suffering from withdrawal. Even now I feel the itch, the urge to unlock that trunk and talk with him until the end of time. He can make it better. He knows the pain and he holds the cure. He can make me feel again. I tell myself that it's all lies. He used me, took what he wanted and then tossed me out like garbage. I gave him my heart and soul and he used me. I feel so worthless now, so empty inside. That's why I crawl. That's why I wrap myself in the fantasy of us together like a security blanket. It shuts out the pain, it fills the void. But all I'm doing is deluding myself. All I'm doing is setting myself up for another fall.

Why did I believe? Why did I think there could be someone out there who understood? It was a foolish hope, a pipedream. No one could know what it's like. And even if they did, what are the realistic chances of me finding them? No, I'm an anomaly, a walking statistical fluke. He was the only one like me and he just used me. Even among my own kind I am an outcast and a misfit.

My hand is nervous. The book I am currently reading holds no more interest. It doesn't talk to me, after all, doesn't stare at me with kind and understanding eyes. It doesn't call me "sweet Raven". I feel sick inside. I want nothing more than to be with him forever. Is this all the happiness I will ever know, crawling like a kicked puppy back to someone who will only abuse me further? I wipe my sweaty palm against the bed sheets. I can't do this.

"What?" I ask as I hear the knock at my door.

"It's me," replies Robin, "You mind if I talk to you?" On some level I am relieved he has given me an excuse to stay my hand but on another level I am angry with him.

"What do you want?" I ask him as I open the door enough to look at him.

"Can I come in?" asks Robin. If it were any of the others, I'd dismiss them. Robin's different though.

"If you must," I reply as I let him in and then go back to my book.

"Good book?" asks Robin in what seems a pitiful attempt to start a normal conversation.

"You had something to say," I tell him as I put my book down, "Say it."

"Well it's . . . it's been a few days since what happened with Malchior and . . .," explains Robin. Hearing his name sets off something in me. Until now I kept trying to pretend he didn't exist but to hear someone else confirm it I realize that he really did. He and I happened and now I am left alone.

"Yes," I say to Robin.

"Are you doing okay?" asks Robin lamely, "I know he hurt you, Raven."

"I don't wanna talk about this," I tell him plainly, "Just leave me alone." Neither of us says anything for a little bit.

"Everyone's been where you are now," offers Robin, "Ask anybody in the tower and they'll tell you about being rejected by someone they loved. We've all felt it, Raven, even me."

"It's not that," I tell him, "There is something different about me, something fundamentally different from the rest of the world. He saw that in me and loved me for it. For once in my life I was happy with who I was, with what I was."

"And now it hurts to go back, hurts to admit that it was a lie," finishes Robin, "It hurts to realize it takes more to be happy than just 'someone who understands'."

"Robin, don't," I tell him, "Just don't."

"Don't what?" asks Robin.

"Don't try to act like you know what it's like," I tell him. I try not to let on that he's closer to the truth than I care to admit. I fell for this before and all it did was get me hurt.

"I don't have to act," says Robin, "You feel it inside you all the time. You don't know what it is but you know that no one else has it. You try to be like them, be normal. Sometimes you fake a smile but you know inside it'll never work. You start to wonder if maybe you're crazy because you feel this way."

"And all you want is someone to know and understand," I finish, "All you want is for someone to tell you that it's okay to feel like this."

"Consensual validation," explains Robin, "The need for someone else to validate your existence. It is okay, Raven. Maybe it's not normal but it's who you are. You're not as alone as you think you are."

"Does it ever go away?" I ask him, "Does it ever stop hurting?"

"Depends," replies Robin, "It takes a while but eventually you get back what you lost. It'll never be the same as it was but it gets better."

"Robin . . . thank you," I tell him, "You guys have been good to me. I don't know what I would've done about all this if you and the others weren't here for me."

"It's nothing," he replies with a smile, "I'm just returning a favor."

"I don't follow," I tell him as I give him a quizzical look.

"I used to feel like you," he explains, "and just like you I got hurt. I felt so broken after that and I was sure no one else could understand. Then I met you and I realized that I wasn't alone."

"I . . . I'm not sure what to say," I tell Robin, "I thought you and Starfire. . .."

"Maybe," replies Robin with a little smile, "but that's not the point. I care about you, Raven. You and I are alike and I learned a good lesson a long time ago about people like us."

"What's that?" I ask as I arch my eyebrow.

"There are a lot of kids out there like us," explains Robin, "There are a lot of kids who feel like they're alone in the world when really they're not. When one of us falls down the others have to pick them up. We have to look out for each other."

"I guess we do," I reply with a little smile, "Robin, thanks for all this. I feel a lot better now knowing I have someone who understands me."

"Like I said, it's nothing," assures Robin with a smile, "I should let you get back to your book." I turn and look at the book lying on my bed. Maybe I don't have to sit here and torture myself. Maybe I can find someone else who not only understands but who loves me too.

"Actually," I tell him, "I was thinking about maybe going out for coffee. Wanna join me?"

"Sure," replies Robin. As I pause at my doorway I take one last look at the chest. He can't hurt me anymore. He's the one who's really alone and he deserves it. I'll be fine again some day. It helps now to know I'm not alone. It helps to know that there are other people like me in the world. I used to think being an anomaly was, by definition, a lonely existence. Now I realize it doesn't have to be, not if you don't want it to.